Forensic nurses are registered nurses who collect and preserve evidence, follow criminal procedures and give expert testimony in court. These specialists work in hospitals and university medical centers, morgues, prisons, rape crisis centers and on law enforcement teams. Their specific role is bridging the gap between medicine and law enforcement.
Beyond the basic qualifications of a registered nurse, a forensic nurse may also hold a certificate or master’s degree in forensic science, certification by the International Association of Forensic Nurses and have additional forensic training in such areas as sexual assault (adult and pediatric), domestic violence, death investigation and other subjects, depending on specialty.
SalaryExpert reports that as of April 2011 the national average base salary for a forensic nurse is $72,058, with an average bonus of $4,683 and benefits worth $10,952 for total compensation of $87,693.
Forensic nursing salaries vary by geographic location. A sampling of average pay rates for forensic nurses from cities around the country as of April 2011, from SalaryExpert:
Boston: $97,386 Los Angeles: $87,180 New York-Manhattan: $84,541 Las Vegas: $79,313 Houston: $75,929 Chicago: $75,487 Miami: $71,123 Nashville, Tenn.: $68,119 Cincinnati: $66,310 Wichita, Kan.: $55,169
In addition to paid vacation and sick time, forensic nurses may also receive medical, dental and vision coverage, life and disability insurance; a 401(k) plan, educational tuition fees or reimbursement, liability insurance and in some cases, stock options.